Last year, EZIYODA made its indelible mark on the convention scene by attending PAX Australia with one goal in mind — to go scouring every corner for the very best in all things cat-related!
In 2023, we’re older, wiser, and greyer in the temples, so you’ll be delighted to know that we’re… doing the exact same thing! Hey, it’s the branding, ok?? We’re loyal to our feline friends in the gaming industry.
With PAX Aus 2023 now in the rearview mirror, we can look back with fondness on everything particularly puddy-tat. As always, please support indie devs by wishlisting their upcoming titles and spreading the word with your friends (even if your friends are cats, like mine).
There were a few return entrants from last year that we highly recommend you check out too, including Nekograms, Picky Meowy, and Cuisineer. For more info on those wonderful titles, please take a look at our 2022 PAX Aus cat-verage! In an exciting update, I can confirm that yes, the Pom cosplay is a real thing that made my whole entire day.
Copycat (Spoonful of Wonder)
Sometimes, a game hits you just right and sucks you in, as if it seems made specifically for you. This is how I’ve felt during my time with Copycat, a touching and thoughtful experience that puts you in the role of Dawn. A recent rescue cat taken in by an elderly woman, you’ll see firsthand how a lifetime of neglect and loneliness can take its toll on our furry bubbas.
It’s a colourful, visually striking title accompanied by a lilting soundtrack and a narrative that will smack you right in the feels. Explore your surroundings as you grow accustomed to your new owner, but be ready for the moment when a nefarious lookalike throws your life into jeopardy. And yes, feel free to knock stuff off shelves and meow indiscriminately the whole time.
To my absolute delight, I was able to choose a feline that very closely resembled my beloved Sami and Ezi — a boon for standard issue cat fanciers out there! The visual tweaks you can make to Dawn go a long way towards personalising your experience, making an already powerful storyline even more impactful.
Please don’t forget to read my interview with Sam and Kostia, the team behind Copycat! It’s sure to make you purr.
Punchimals (Two Lives Left)
But hey, not every cat is going to be as adventurous as Dawn. Some would prefer to sit back and let their technology do the talking, much like Mochi; one of the available characters in the physics-based fighting game, Punchimals.
Set in a world where a reliance on gadgets has created widespread obesity, animals settle their difference from within the cockpit of gigantic mechs. It’s an endearing, hectic, and altogether bizarre image while you watch a tubby tabby take her aggression out on a smart-ass crab with an agenda.
Battles are undertaken with a twin stick mechanic that puts you in direct control of your mech’s limbs, allowing you to theoretically master the entire body with feints and jukes. That being said, it’s just as much fun to frantically bash all over the place, bouncing off of walls and flailing through the air like a kitty that’s just entered 4am goblin mode.
I’m not sure whether there’s any Mochi merch out there yet, but rest assured, if and when it emerges, I’m throwing my wallet at it with the fervour of throwing hands at Crabitron Jr.. Hate that guy.
Turbo Cat Fight (CHAOSMORE WORKS)
Cats locked in mortal combat seemed to be a recurring theme this year, with the delightfully manic Turbo Cat Fight bringing the hurt courtesy of the Ukiyo Studios booth. Ukiyo Studios highlighted the talented indie devs of southeast Asia this year, and anyone with whiskers would have been immediately drawn to this pixelated entry from Malaysia.
The simple aesthetics bely a fast-paced, tooth-and-nail scrap with multiple loadouts and buttery smooth animations. These little critters really go at one another, deftly flipping about the screen as they pelt each other with melee strikes and special techniques. You might even be somewhat taken aback once they spring into action.
Considering how broad and experimental the fighting game community is, I could honestly see Turbo Cat Fight catching on in the competitive scene. I really, really hope people give it a chance, and you don’t have to wait to try it out — it’s already available on Steam, having launched on Valentine’s Day this year (how romantic!)
And yes, the cats are equipped with scratch attacks. In case you were curious.
Spelly Cat (Brkn Fixie Games)
Cat owners are intelligent people by default. If they’re smart enough to share their lives with these fuzzy bundles of joy, they’re clearly smart enough to solve the world’s problems. Their only downfall: all of their black clothes are almost certainly covered in tiny little hairs.
So a title like Spelly Cat should be right up their alley. It’s a word puzzle game with a range of level types and procedurally generated challenges, starring a brave kitty out to save their owner. The protagonist vaguely resembles Faye, but I assure you, it’s not her. She would have given up on rescuing me after twenty minutes.
The visual style is downright adorable, and I think the euphoric vibes of cats and the cosy appeal of brainteasers makes for a natural pairing. The creative ways in which the fantasy setting is integrated into the puzzles makes things even more engaging — it’s worth checking out some gameplay footage to get an idea of what I mean!
Purrgatory High School (RMIT)
But hey, what’s that? You’re saying you don’t want to play as a cat, you’d rather fight them instead? Ahh, what kind of foul beast are you?! Could it be that you’re Crabitron Jr. in disguise?
I can’t say I agree with your stance, but fortunately, PAX Aus 2023 had you covered, as well. Taking place as part of RMIT’s booth — showcasing projects made by students enrolled in their Bachelor of Design (Games) degree — Purrgatory High School casts you as a teenage reaper out to save her grandmother from the apocalypse.
The enemies of this dungeon crawler take the form of eldritch feline monsters with a weakness to fire and a voracious appetite (though in fairness, that accurately describes most cats, I think). It’s really such a buzz to see the work of the next generation of game devs firsthand, though I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the monster kitties as they were set ablaze.
Don’t worry, mutant meow-meows. I’ll still be your pal.
Fat Cats Inc. (Board and Sorcery)
This year, EZIYODA also found a feline influence prowling in the tabletop section!
In an allegory for capitalism that hits far too close to home, Fat Cats Inc. tasks you with building up your empire before the world comes to an end. Strategically employing the right cards can give you a leg-up on your rivals, with the caveat that it expedites the demise of the entire planet. As you play, a packaged Doomsday Clock ticks closer towards the apocalypse (perhaps as a precursor to the events of Purrgatory High School?)
Fat Cats Inc. is purr-fect for quick sessions of about an hour or so, and allows up to six players — giving you ample opportunity to piss off as many people with your underhanded tactics as possible. I am entirely against the shady dealings of corporations, and yet I fully endorse it in this fictional medium, as my play style typically revolves around being as toxic as possible.
If this sounds like your thing, Fat Cats Inc. has an ongoing Kickstarter running until early November! This is your chance to get your paws on the game, while also aiding dedicated publishers who have themselves backed no less than 20 projects. Please do good things for good people and lend your support (then be as bad a person as you’d like in-game, it’s win/win)!
Another convention is in the bag, and we have well and truly let the cat out of this one! Once again, I’d like to thank the amazing indie devs for their hard work. There’s more information you can find at the various links above, or by checking out the PAX Rising page.
A special shout-out goes to all the people who made PAX Aus 2023 possible, from the exhibitors to the enforcers keeping everything under control, as well as the teams at ReedPop and Rocket Comms diligently working behind the scenes!
Until next year, baby. Keep wowing, and keep meowing ~